Everyday we are surrounded by clutter in some form at home or at work. One of the big ones for many people is their email inbox. Are you good at organising your inbox? For many people this can be hard to achieve particular when they have multiple inboxes to manage so the issue of clutter can be magnified somewhat. Does this sound like at all like you?
Several of my own friends have thousands of emails in the inbox and when they are looking for something it can waste so much time and be very unproductive. Using your inbox as a pseudo filing system does not really work. There are certainly better ways to use one’s time than scrolling through pages and pages of emails to find something you need!
Steps to organising your inbox
Here are 6 steps your can take to tame your out of control inbox and save yourself time in the long run:
- The first step will be to clean out your inbox – to do this I suggest you create a few folders in the first instance – usually by year is the best place to start – 2017, 2016, 2015 ….. If your emails are actually more recent then you might like to name folders that are relevant to you and your needs. Afterall you are the one who needs to be able to find them easily.
- Once you have created these folders then move all your emails from these years into their relevant folder. If this step is creating angst for you don’t worry as you are just moving them and not deleting anything at this stage.
- The next step is to take control from here on in of what arrives in your inbox. All those emails we have put into yearly folders can be dealt with later when you have time. Even consider this that if you don’t find yourself looking for anything over a period of time you may also want to just delete them. The important point here is to make sure you have a process moving forward and that you are not adding to the backlog.
- For any new emails that arrive in your inbox from here on in you need to make decisions on what to do with them and not just leave them to pile up again. Questions to ask yourself are:
- Does this email require me to action it? If so either you can deal with it there and then or add it to your to do list for later.
- Is this something I might need to refer to later? By this it might be useful information that you might need at a later stage ie tickets to an event, travel ideas, financial or tax information etc. My suggestion for these type of emails is that you create folders within your email that make sense to you and allow you to easily find your these materials at a later time. Using the examples above the folders you might like to create are ‘My ticket information’; ‘My travel details’ and ‘Financial information’ respectively.
- Is this something that is trash and can be deleted? If necessary unsubscribe or just delete the email. Be decisive in that if it’s not relevant delete it!
- Do I actually even want this in the first place? Over time we tend to subscribe to many different newsletters, product updates or email updates and some of these are probably no longer relevant or needed. If this is the case I suggest that from here on in as you receive one of these emails that you go to the bottom of the email and hit ‘unsubscribe’ (Sometimes this button can be hard to find but keep looking). Another way of doing this is to create a folder called ‘subscriptions’ or something and move all the emails of this nature into that folder for say a month. Make a diary not for a month’s time and go back and see how many you have and then to decide which of those are of value and which aren’t and then hit unsubscribe.
- If you now have time and want to go back through those emails we moved into yearly folders then go for it. However the most important thing you can do moving forward is to ensure you keep on top of any new emails that arrive in your inbox and follow the steps outlined above so that it doesn’t get unwieldly again.
- If you are someone who has multiple inboxes then you might like to follow the same steps above for each inbox that you have.
There are many other ways to manage your inboxes with setting spam filters, using junk folders and also setting email rules. If this might be something you’d like to do then I suggest you check them out in the email system that you use.
Good luck and here’s to no longer spending ages trying to find an email again! Remember your inbox is there to serve you and not the other way around.
If you are still unsure of how to take control of your inbox or maybe you have issues with your electronic files as well then please do get in touch as this is something I can assist you with.